Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 2 Oct 2008 Contents Independence Volume 33 No. 2 69
3. Vision is communicated in a way that
develops commitment from school
4. There are many facets to the leadership
role: technical, human, educational,
5. Leaders keep abreast of trends and
issues, threats and opportunities in the
school community and in society at
large, nationally and internationally;
they discern the 'megatrends' and an-
ticipate their impact on education and
6. Leaders should seek to empower others,
especially in respect to decision making.
Leadership in practice
Leadership styles have a spatial and
temporal quality. It is increasingly clear
that effective leaders are not effective in
all conditions. Increasingly, our con-
temporary understanding of leadership
in general -- and school leadership in
particular -- has accepted the notion that
effective leadership emerges from a satis-
factory resolution between the ideal and
Kets de Vries and Miller11 have argued
that strategic failure in organisations is
often due to the CEO's rigidity. Kitson12
distinguishes between 'adaptive' and 'in-
novative' leaders. Adaptive personalities
direct their institutions towards doing
better within the agreed, existing defini-
tions and previously established practices,
whereas innovative personalities are
concerned with doing things differently.
By reconstructing a problem, the latter
personality can manage crisis situations
and lead institutions successfully through
the unexpected crisis.
Personal qualities, such as integrity, as-
sertiveness and commonsense can be in-
strumental in a leader's capacity to influ-
ence and direct the institution's progress.
Neumann and Finaly-Neumann13
conclude from their study of private
liberal arts colleges that the personal
qualities of the Principal are crucial to
college enrolment growth/decline. They
found the most important facet of the
Principal's personal characteristics is the
capacity to innovate and the innovator's
style: 'Colleges whose CEOs are innova-
tors are associated with a higher level of
enrolment growth than colleges where
CEOs are not innovators.' Within the
innovator's style, the capacity to think
originally in meeting and solving chal-
lenges and in addressing policy issues is
the most important leadership quality.
There is definitely no single criterion for
ascribing effectiveness or excellence to a
particular school or, for that matter, to
Principals.14 Relationships internal and
external to the school are complex and
subject to a wide range of influences.
Contextual circumstances and issues help
define the role, and in times of crisis and
rapid change the role can change unex-
pectedly, urgently and extensively. Leader-
ship qualities not otherwise required or
evident are called upon at such times. Even
during periods of relative stability schools
are fluid, sensitive places requiring govern-
ance and leadership that is knowledgeable,
reflective and wise.
Those responsible for the vision and
welfare of schools should seek to achieve a
strategic balance between the ideal in lead-
ership and the significant situational forces
that are at work in the broad community
of the school.
Dr William McKeith, AM is Executive Principal
of PLCs Sydney and Armidale. He is widely
published and has contributed as a speaker to a
number of Australian and international confer-
ences. He is an adviser to various new private
schools being developed in Vietnam.
This article is an edited extract from a paper
by Dr McKeith titled 'Maintaining the Balance:
Weighty Issues in School Leadership'. The full
paper is published in Independence ONLINE
on AHISA's website at www.ahisa.com.au.
1 Grace, G. (1995). School Leadership. London:
3 Ibid, page 14.
4 Ibid, page 33.
5 Kefford, R.E. (1987). 'The problems and
positive role of the principals in independent
schools' in Simpkins, W.S., Ross Thomas, A.,
Barrington Thomas, E. (Eds), Principal and
Change: The Australian Experience. Armidale:
UNE; page 58.
6 Hallinger, P. (1992). 'The evolving role of
American principals : From managerial to
instructional to transformational leaders',
Journal of Educational Administration, Special
Issue, Vol 30, No 3; page 42.
7 DeBevoise, W. (1984). 'Synthesis of research
on the principal as instructional leader', Edu-
cational Leadership, 41(5); page 14.
8 Wildy, H. and Dimmock, C. (1993). 'Instruc-
tional leadership in primary and secondary
schools in Western Australia', Journal of
Educational Administration, Vol 31, No
2; Hallinger, P. (1992). 'The evolving role
of American principals : From managerial
to instructional to transformational lead-
ers', Journal of Educational Administration,
Special Issue, Vol 30, No 3; Caldwell, B. J. and
Spinks, J. M. (1992). Leading the Self-Manag-
ing School. London: Palmer Press.
9 Bennis, W. and Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders:
The Strategies for Taking Charge. New York:
Harper and Row; page 127.
10Ibid, page 20.
11Kets de Vries, M. and Miller, D. (1984). The
Neurotic Organization. San Francisco, CA:
12Kitson, M.J. (1986). 'Adaptors and innovators
in organizations', in Human Relations, Vol 33.
13Neumann, Y, and Finaly-Neumann, E, (1994).
'Management strategy, the CEO's cognitive
style and organizational growth/decline', Jour-
nal of Educational Administration, Vol 32, No
4; page 75.
14 Donovan, B. (1992). 'The political principal in a
turbulent society' in Crowther, F. and Ogilvie, D.
(Eds), The New Political World of Educational
Administration. ACEA, Vic; page 89.
emerges from a
between the ideal and
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
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